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There seems to be more than a few computer science/programming Stack Exchange networks (is that the correct term?). Stack Overflow, being the first, has by far the most users, questions, and answers.

What is the reasoning for creating the others, and are there clear guidelines for which kinds of questions should be posted? I can see a large amount of potential overflow, many cases of people not getting a good answer to their question, because the person who has the answer isn't browsing that particular network at the moment.

I understand that they were probably created for organizational purposes, but wouldn't it almost make more sense to just have them as categories under Stack Overflow, keep them separated but still connected, instead of making people have to create multiple 'account's, one for each network?

I am sure there was a very good reason to break them up, but as someone that is new to SE, it can be somewhat intimidating to decide which one to post in to ensure you get a good answer. For example, if I am a computer science student, my first instinct might to be to post in the computer science network, until I see that it literally has 1% of the users as the Stack Overflow network, which still seems to be for programming/computer science related questions.

So my second instinct would then to be to post it into the Stack Overflow site on the basis that I have a significantly higher chance of my question being seen and getting a good answer. Then I notice that there is also a 'programmers' network, and I don't even begin to know where that fits in. I, and I am assuming most people, will probably just post on Stack Overflow to be safe.

My question is, other than the short little description blurb of each one, is there a clear cut set of guidelines which what each network is intended for, what kinds of questions should go to each one, and is anything being done to encourage people to post in these newer, smaller (more specialized?) networks as opposed to just posting in big daddy Stack Overflow?

Now again, this is for computer science/programming/"why isn't this code doing what I want?" related questions, I am not saying that if I had a question about Linux or WordPress or something I would have the same confusion.

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  • 94
    I'm not new to SE, and I still don't understand the overlap of topics across multiple sites, so don't feel too bad! – Cody Gray Apr 18 '12 at 5:34
  • 3
    I agree, there are some that feel almost too close to each other. Even SuperUser and StackOverflow can occasionally have questions asked that could fall into either. – user354226 Mar 22 '17 at 21:48
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    Jeff Atwood (SO co-founder), was at least partly responsible for the fragmentation of SO into arbitrary overlapping microsites that promoted identity politics and duplication/overlap, instead of attempting to reduce anti-patterns. He explained his reasoning c. 2010-2011. I disagreed with his reasoning then and I still disagree with it now. See these two discussions: 1 2. – sampablokuper Dec 1 '18 at 17:42
  • @CodyGray: they don't make sense to me, only confusing users. E.g. whatever you ask in CodeReview could be asked in StackOverflow. – Marco Demaio Dec 7 '18 at 23:56
313

Before you choose a site…

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From Wikipedia:

It is often considered to be a sub-field of applied mathematics. The terms management science and decision science are sometimes used as synonyms.

Employing techniques from other mathematical sciences, such as mathematical modeling, statistical analysis, and mathematical optimization, operations research arrives at optimal or near-optimal solutions to complex decision-making problems. Because of its emphasis on human-technology interaction and because of its focus on practical applications, operations research has overlap with other disciplines, notably industrial engineering and operations management, and draws on psychology and organization science. Operations research is often concerned with determining the extreme values of some real-world objective: the maximum (of profit, performance, or yield) or minimum (of loss, risk, or cost).

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  • 9
    I feel like this answer (or a variation) should be included in most flagged and closed questions across the various CS-related Stack Exchange sites due to being off-topic/out of scope. I often ask myself which one of a small handful of ones to use, and usually end up at Stack Overflow after reading the guidelines for asking questions at each one's help-center. That process can be tedious, though. I'd love to have a cheat-sheet handy, if you will. It would help not only the newbies, but members that tend to develop the full stack, and find themselves all over the place, CS-wise. – kayleeFrye_onDeck Dec 16 '15 at 23:12
  • 5
    Shouldn't all sites for specific programming languages be mentioned here? I mean, TeX, Blender, ... – yo' Jan 6 '16 at 20:20
  • The exchanges above are more focused on concepts, with SO being a definite exception to that. Putting all the language exchanges here seems kind of wasteful, but only IMO. – kayleeFrye_onDeck Feb 19 '16 at 4:25
  • 1
    I've landed here through a question that was marked as duplicate to this. I'm suggesting the same as with @kayleeFrye_onDeck and others. Until then, I'll mark this as favorite link for quick access. – Alex Sarafian Oct 19 '17 at 6:32
  • 2
    Where is webmasters.stackexchange.com? – Adelin May 17 '18 at 7:17
  • 1
    What a mess. :-) – Marco Demaio Dec 7 '18 at 23:56
  • 2
    this is a great overview of some of the options. there are a few subclauses that are confusingly scattered under each other's subheadings, and there are many sites omitted, i would like to see retrocomputing as well as those in other comments. it seems this has no guarantee of being up-to-date so i'm wary of directing people here as a catch all. – ocæon Apr 30 at 15:28
  • But what if I accidentally ask a research-level question on cs.stackexchange.com ? – SamB Jun 7 at 20:57
  • 1
    Only one way to find out @SamB – yannis Jun 7 at 22:11
  • I removed bookmarklets from the Web Applications section as they aren't on-topic anymore there. Ref Is Web Applications still the best stop for bookmarklets? – Rubén Aug 17 at 14:26

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